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My nephew’s girlfriend and her sister are planning a trip to Tuscany in September. We have been asked for some advice on where to stay and what to do in and around Tuscany. It sounds as if the girls are looking for an authentic experience so rather than staying in hotels they are keen to […]
This gallery contains 20 photos.
No trip to Tuscany is complete without a visit to Chianti. We took the back road from Siena through Castellina to Greve. We couldn’t resist showing Charlie and Isabel the deli in Greve particularly as Isabel’s business is dairy. Although we have been to this deli a number of times (here for example), as with […]
Charlie and Isabel arrived on Saturday afternoon having travelled from north of Florence. I had suggested they text us when they got close to our place which, in this case, meant texting from the carpark “I think we are here”. The 3kms of dirt road make you wonder where the hell you are the first time you arrive.
We ambled out with the dogs and found them looking around wondering if this was our place or the home of some local family. Either way they would have been made to feel welcome.
Dinner that night was at our local Pizza restaurant Le Campannia (other summer visitors will know this restaurant) which does excellent pizzas and provides endless free entertainment watching the antics of the locals.
Next morning was the All Black quarter final game so the entire team headed to the Campo at 9am to watch the game. Clearly word about our World Cup venue is getting out as there were already two holidaying kiwi couples waiting for the game – and with us that meant the crowd swelled to a record eight people. Nine counting an elderly Italian gentleman who joined us to support the French. He was a day late but still enjoyed the game.
Ninety minutes later it was “job well done” by the lads. Well sort of well done as there is still some work to do before meeting Australia – and a chance for a wander around Siena before lunch in the sun at Osteria del Bigelli which, once again, did not disappoint with the food.
Jean made her famous kiwi roast pork with gravy for dinner and we washed it down with a very nice Chianti courtesy of our guests.
Rugby, beer, wine, sightseeing and roast pork with gravy. A top day and a half.
Yesterday we went for a drive to Castellina in Chianti. We have been there a number of times, both with others and by ourselves over the last few months, but this time we abandoned the autostrade for the backroads.
The trip from Siena to Castellina is a winding road through the lower slopes of the Chianti hills which then climbs up towards Castellina.
Everywhere you look there are classic Italian scences – even when you take a break to let Daisy the dog have a comfort stop. “Good girl Daisy” and you turn around and this is the view.
When Mike and Charmaine and wee James were here we visited the small village of Greve in Chanti. Greve is built around a triangular piazza which has the usual assortment of shops and cafes dotted around it.
It also has one shop which we think is special. The sign outside says Norcineria – or butchery – but the experience inside is something else.
Describing Antica Macelleria Falorni as a butchery is like calling St Peters in Rome just a church. Entering the shop, you are hit by complete sensory overload. Everywhere you look there are cured hams, cheeses, salamis, and more cured hams hanging, stacked, packed and displayed. The smell is overwhelming (I’m told as I have no sense of smell) and it strikes you like a hammer the moment you walk through the door.
The shop also sells wines to go with the wide range of cheeses available as well as the ususal Tuscan butchery mix of meats, game, and poultry.
In the usual Italian way, things can be tasted before buying – just to provide even greater sensory overload.
The shop stretches through 3 street frontages so as you move away from the front door you move from one small area to another, and in each the ceiling is hung with curing legs of ham giving the whole shop the feeling of a cave. For food-lovers, almost certainly an Aladdins cave.
If you visit Tuscany, you really should stop in Greve and marvel at this most unlikely tourist attraction.
Over the last week or so blog posts have been infrequent – so infrequent that there haven’t been any actually. The reason is simply because we’ve had visitors – from New Zealand and the UK. We have been busy – a complete novelty after 3 months of doing, well, nothing.
In addition to Charmaine, Mike and little James we’ve had Danny Malone a mate from KiwiRail arrive on his latest European trip and Gill, Andre and Josh and Jordan jet in from the UK.
In the last few days we’ve been sightseeing in Pisa, Florence, Siena, San Gimignano and Volterra. We’ve eaten out in cafe’s, our local pizza restaurant and a restaurant with a carpark that turns into seating at night. We’ve laid by the pool, we’ve made a dent in the national stock levels of Chianti and Birra and generally had a great time.
A mixed assortment of pictures follow.
Last night we caught up with Kate and her family who are spending 2 months travelling around Europe. Kate used to work with Jean at Clemenger but she is currently based in the UK with her partner.
Jean had put Kate in touch with our villa wizard friend Olga when their trip was being planned but made sure to recommended a villa we had stayed at previously. Villa Crognole is a beautiful villa tucked into the Chianti hills with a view down the valley towards Radda.
We called into Crognole yesterday afternoon for a drink or two along with Olga and her husband which meant the afternoon was spent sitting in the sun discussing travel, news from home, and any other subject that wandered into people’s minds, all in a mix of english, italian and kiwi.
Dinner was lovely and all done on Italian time. That simply means that the wine and various courses rolled out through the evening until we finally left the restaurant, just before midnight.
Good people, great company and truly la dolce vita.